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Mazda Goes Great, It’s The CX-8! And How About The Mazda6?

Mazda has added a new CX model to the range, with the CX-8 also being the sole diesel powered entry to the family. The seven seater will have a 2.2L oiler with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Name plates will be Sport with front and all wheel drive, and Asaki AWD as the range leader.Pricing will naturally be competitive with a starting price of $42,490 (manufacturer’s list price) for the FWD Sport. The AWD Sport will start from $46,490, and the Asaki from $61,490.  The Asaki will feature heated front and rear seats, a Bose sound system, brown or white elather trim, and a woodgrain dash finish.Size-wise the CX-8 will be on the same 2930mm wheelbase as the petrol only CX-9, but is slightly smaller in length, width, and height. It’s based on the CX-5 platform but shares the same wheelbase as the larger CX-9.Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning are expected to be listed as standard equipment, along with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for the Sport. Further details are expected closer to the launch date.CX-8 is due to be released for a July 2018 sales date.

The Mazda6 has also had the wand waved over it. There’s a refinement to the exterior including LED headlights with integrated fog lamps, a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5L petrol four, and upgrades to trim.
Standard equipment includes the i-ACTIVESENSE safety package which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and the top end Atenza gains a 360 degree viewing monitor and vented front seats, a boon for Aussie drivers in warm climates. The seats themselves have been redesigned with better support and higher vibration absorption levels.There’s 14 variants for the 2018/2019 Mazda6, covering sedan and wagon, with Sport, Touring, GT, and Atenza trim levels. Pricing starts at $32,490 (plus on roads) for the Sport sedan with the 2.5L 140kW/252Nm petrol four, and tops out at $50,090 plus on roads for the Atenza diesel wagon. A 2.5L SkyActiv four cylinder petrol is also available with 170kW and 420Nm at 2000 rpm.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: One For The (Rich) Masses.

As often happens in Hollywood, two movies are released that have similar themes. And it is in the uber-luxury world with Mercedes-Maybach releasing a high end SUV, and now the British icon of Rolls-Royce has countered with the Cullinan.Immediately there’s a special kind of appeal for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan compared to the Maybach. It LOOKS like an SUV and ones with hints of historic British marques. A rear quarter view evokes Range Rover, for example, the front is pure “Roller”, whilst others have said there’s flashes of the iconic London taxi.

However it’s seen, it’s the first Rolls-Royce car of its type and nothing has been overlooked to ensure it embodies what R-R stands for. A clue to this can be picked from the name. In January of 1905 a diamond was mined in Cullinan, South Africa. At just under 3107 carats before being cut and polished, it’s still the largest gem quality rough diamond ever found. The two main Cullinan diamonds, incidentally, are part of the British Crown Jewels.

Motorvation is the famous 6.75 litre V12 which delivers 563 bhp (420 kW) and a orbit stopping 627 lb-ft (850Nm at just 1650 rpm) that’s connected to all four corners. Said four corners are also steerable. The drivetrain was engineered and refined through thousands of miles worth of testing in terrain as diverse as the sandy deserts of Arabia to the chill of the Scottish Highlands. Top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph or 250 km/h.

A key design feature that stands out in this Cullinan is the inclusion of “suicide doors” as seen in the sedan range. And being a Rolls-Royce, inside is a three box design, being front seats, rear seats, and rear cargo section that can be separated from the rest of the interior via a partition wall made of glass.Being the company’s first SUV, there’s the first opening tailgate and has its own name. “The Clasp” opens up to display a cargo space not unlike the style seen when luggage was carried on the exterior of cars.
Forward of this is perhaps the signature Roll-Royce seating layout. Sir and Madam can choose either Lounge Seats or Individual Seats which when fitted are located higher in what R-R calls Pavilion Seating. The Lounge will seat three and in yet another first for the iconic brand, the seats will fold at the touch of a button. Rolls-Royce don’t overlook detail here either with the headrests set to fold as well. Why? To avoid a headrest imprint on the seat’s leather. Full loading length is 2245 mm and offers 1930L of space.

Should the Individual option be ticked, a Fixed Rear Seat Console is installed and features bespoke whisky glasses and decanter. The glass wall has an extra benefit here. Should the rear seat passengers wish to be travelling in isolated comfort after raising the partition, when the cargo area is opened the interior temperature stays as chosen.The airbag suspension enables the Cullinan to not only waft along, it will lower the car by 40 mm and with the wide aperture doors open enables unparalleled entry and egress. Once inside there’s access to high tech features such as Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view. Camera users can recharge from the five USB ports installed and smartphones are wirelessly charged.

Aluminuim was extensively employed in the sub-frame to ensure both lightness and rigidity met the standards expected by Rolls-Royce customers. It brings along future proofing as well as part of the proprietary “Architecture of Luxury”. There’s a new double wishbone front suspension and five link rear that holds the four wheel drive and suspension system which is in constant contact with a drive monitoring computer that calculates millions of times per seconds.

Cullinan brings with it one final surprise. The key fob has a button that when pressed accesses what R-R calls “The Everywhere Button”. It activates the Cullinan’s drive system and allows peerless finessing of the suspension for the drive ahead.The Cullinan. “Effortless, Everywhere”.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD.

It’s a market that is seemingly on the nose with the Australian buyer yet there really is no truly good reason for it to be so. It’s the large sedan segment, made famous in Oz by the Kingswood, the Falcon, the Valiant. Australia went mid-sized with the VB Commodore in 1978 and 40 years later closed manufacturing, released the ZB Commodore and…..it’s been pretty quiet on the sales charts. Drive around and try and spot one. And yet, to deny it’s a bloody good car is to do yourself a disservice.I had a week with the near top of the range Calais V6. Any V6 Commodore in the ZB range comes with All Wheel Drive (AWD) as standard. Piled on top are 20 inch diameter alloys, Adaptive LED headlights and LED tail lights, a punchy Bose audio sound system via an eight inch touchscreen, powered front seats, a massage function for the driver’s, twin USB outlets for the rear seats, paddle shifts, remote engine start, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay via the understated looking touchscreen interface.The 1700 plus kilo machine is powered by a 3.6L V6 with no turbos. Peak power is 235kW at 6200rpm, peak torque is 381Nm at a highish 5200rpm. It’s this second figure that has some reviewers suggesting it’s sluggish compared to the perky 2.0L turbo petrol four. However, buried in the touchscreen menu is a couple of settings that adjust the car for Auto or Sports. And there’s an appreciable difference between the two.The Calais V6 AWD is a docile machine when required. It’ll simply purr along, unfussed and stress free, with the nine speed auto quietly and unobtrusively slurring through the gears. The exhaust is barely audible and there’s a faint whirr from up front. Crack the whip and the Calais V6 AWD goes from a sleeping kitten to a provoked tiger. There’s a real anger to the noise from the exhaust, a feral whine from the engine bay, no torque steer as the AWD system simply spanks the Calais on the arse and sends it flying forward. 0-100 time is quoted as 6.5 seconds and that’s pretty much what the seat of the pants says too. Overtaking is done with relative ease, and the whole package instills confidence. Along the way it’ll slurp a bit, with 12.1L/100km quoted for the city cycle. AWT bettered that in a mainly suburban drive at 10.6L/100km.

The steering is weighted like Goldilocks’ porridge. It’s just right. There’s no torque steer tug to unsettle, there’s weight enough to feel like you’re connected, and it’s not too light as to feel over assisted. There’s a sense of balance in the force for turns from lock to lock with the front pointing exactly where the mind has told the hands where it wants to go.Ride quality matches the pace, with the Sports suspension ironing out float, niggles, irregularities, with equal disdain. There’s something that only a real anorak would call harshness to the damping otherwise it’s fluid, compliant, comfortable even but leaving you in no doubt it’s in a sporting mode. Naturally there’s plenty of grip from the Continental Sports Contact 6 rubber, with plenty of footprint from the 245/35/20 rubber. And whilst you’re out and about, the nine speed auto is noticeable largely for one thing. That you don’t notice the gear changes. It’s smoother than Elvis crooning Love Me Tender, as slick as James Bond in a tux, and as enjoyable as sipping on your favourite single malt at the end of a hard day at the coalface.The Calais V6 AWD test car came clad in metallic silver paint. There’s more of a benefit in this than first meets the eye, as it emphasises the sleekness of the profile of the 4986mm long machine, the breadth of the lower set nose compared to the VF, the coupe styling at the rear where the hatch and non-powered liftback section (which is kept for the Tourer whereas here it would be a nice addition) reside. There’s a decent 560L cargo space which goes to 1665L with the rear seats down. It also highlights, as a downside in styling, the Ford Cougar line to the tail light section and the somewhat overdone scallop in the doors.There’s an odd design to the driver’s display, with an LCD screen overlaid by two chromed dials, meaning there’s a section of LCD and a section of mechanical dial. Inside the Calais suffers from black upon black. AWT has sandwiched the Calais with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super and the Toyota Camry V6. Both feature a two tone colour scheme from the options list, with a beige that tended towards bone contrasting with the black otherwise built in. Although the cabin is comfortable and spacious enough, and features a HUD that has switchable information screens, it’s let down by a frankly boring interior colour scheme and the generic GM switch gear. In short, it lacks classiness.Where it doesn’t lack is in safety features. Blind Spot Sensor, Brake Assist, Camera Rear & Side Vision, ESC, Front Collision Mitigation at Low Speed, and Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keeping with Active Assist (where the steering gently tugs the tiller to keep you between the whitelines), Parking Distance alerts, Pedestrian Avoidance, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus a full suite of airbags sans kneebag. Holden’s offering a seven year warranty to sweeten the deal as well.

At The End Of The Drive.
Priced in the region of $60K plus on road costs the Holden Calais V V6 AWD is a natural successor to the beloved Australian VF Commodore. Yes there’s no ute or V8. Yes there’s now a diesel and turbo four. Yes the lower levels are powered through the front wheels. So what? Genuinely. So what? This car and the rest of the Commodore family are part of the evolution of matters automotive. What this car delivers is what the VF did, and then some. The design may not appeal to everyone and that’s fine. Not everyone thinks Monty Python are funny or that the earth is round. That’s fine, if somewhat odd.

Holden conducted numerous clinics before releasing this car and the consensus was to leave the name where it was. In a way, Commodore has come full circle over forty years, with the naming a clear link. 1978 = VB. 2017 = ZB.

What’s inside the ZB is currently amongst the best tech for the level of car it is. It’s safer, too. However it’s still too generically GM inside and for a Calais to be a Calais it NEEDS to say so. This doesn’t, and therein lies the rub. For a DRIVER it answers the call. For the fashion conscious they’ll look elsewhere. Check it out for yourself here: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Haval H9 Ultra.

Haval‘s H9 is the latest and largest entry from the Chinese based car maker. Available in two trim levels, the Lux and Ultra (aka Premium), they’re well kitted, aren’t terrible to look at either inside or out, and well priced too. The Lux starts at $41,990 and the Ultra at $45,990 with both being drive-away. The only real options look like external paint and interior colours.

Both have a turbocharged 2.0L petrol engine, eight speed auto, and weigh over 2000 kilograms. This equates to an official fuel consumption figure on the combined cycle of 10.9L of 95RON per 100 kilometres from the 80L tank. Around town the Haval H9 Ultra, weighing 2250kg plus fuel and passengers, delivered a pleasing 12.5L/100km from the 180kW/350Nm engine. Towing capacity is 2500kg.The 4826mm long machine seats seven and the rear seats are powered. Activated by toggles which much be held to have the seat go from top to bottom and reverse, it’s a slightly painstaking way to get an extra two bums on seats. There are illuminated alloy side steps shrouded in plastic, LED strip lighting inside which can be changed at the touch of a button, the doors have LED puddle lamps that cast the Haval logo in red. Up front there’s “bendy” headlights and the LED system shines a crisp white that provides plenty of safe forward looking distance.Outside it looks like a pumped up version of a early noughties X-Trail thanks to the vertical lights at the rear. At the front there are stylish hints of Toyota LandCruiser and Prado. There’s a fair size comparison too, as the H9 stands and spans 1900mm in height and width. It’s an imposing sight to see, both in a shopping centre carpark and on the road parked.The interior features acres of leather. The (heated for Ultra) steering wheel, front, middle, and rear seats are leather, the front seats are heated in the Ultra, and the rear section has its own climate control system. The Lux has manually adjusted cloth seats, the Ultra’s are powered, have memory settings and a massage function. The third row seats in the Lux are manual, and the second row in the Lux miss out on heating as well. The Ultra also gets a full length glass roof and the front section is a movable sunroof. These are operated by a dial above the driver and passenger, and seem counter-intuitive in the direction of rotation to operate the roof. It’s a pleasant place to be and the seats themselves in the Ultra were very comfortable, supportive, and the massage function worked well enough too.The cabin the Ultra had was of black and bone. It’s a nice contrast as the bone tended more towards the white shade, not the beige shade as seen elsewhere, and suited the silver the revieww car came with. However the smoky grey faux wood trim in the review car is a matter of personal preference. The dash itself is clearly laid out and easy on the eye, with a sensible design layout, a centre LCD screen with changeable information displays and red highlighting. Haval add a small strip style display about the touchscreen in the centre of the dash that displays height, barometric pressure, tilt angle, and compass direction. The audio system is from Infinity and although not fitted with DAB, the touchscreen system proffers AM/FM and some very clean sound through the ten speaker mix. Switch gear is mostly cleanly laid out however the climate control button labelled Mode doesn’t quite bring up what is expected appears to work and the Synch between driver and passenger isn’t as clear either.Being as big as it is, it’s no surprise the H9 has plenty of shoulder, leg, and head room inside. Although the wheelbase is a surprisingly shortish 2800mm, the overall width and height give plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room. All round vision is good thanks to plenty of glass making for an airy cabin and there’s plenty of forward vision thanks to the height the driver sits at.
There’s a full suite of airbags on board sans driver’s kneebag. Haval aren’t alone in this though. Safety tech is of a high level such as front and rear parking sensors, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Assist, Blind Spot Alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, but no Autonomous Emergency Braking. The head rests in the front seat are crash programmed to move forward and cradle the heads of the front seat passengers.Out on the road that 350Nm and two plus tonnes don’t seem to promise anything other than a lumbering performance. Thankfully that’s not quite the case. A gentle push of the go pedal has the H9 move away softly and with increasing velocity nicely however a decent prod will have the big machine somewhere between “this is ok” and “wow, that’s pretty good”. The eight speed auto will drop quietly down a cog or two and having eight ratios does mean there’s better drivability when needed.

That peak torque is on tap between 1800 to 4500 however that weight counts heavily (no pun intended). This is where a petrol only range needs support from a diesel and with most two litre diesels hovering around the 400Nm mark, it’s perhaps something Haval should be looking at sooner than later. However it’s more likely a hybrid drivetrain would be fitted than an oiler. It’s not all roses and silk though.The eight speed transmission is frustrating in its inconsistency. Gears are selected via an Audi style rocker item and Park is a button on the top.The transmission will not engage unless the seat belts are plugged in which is great, but the variances in between when the transmission engages is another. It’s erratic in that it will sometimes grab first smoothly, sometimes not. There’s some instant engagement, there’s sometimes a delay before lurching forward. The engine is in need of more refinement as there’s a coarse feeling to the way it spins. The auto, once warmed up, is as smooth as a modern eight speed with European ties should be and it was rare that a gear change was physically felt. It’s designed for off-road as well, the H9, as there’s a switch in the centre console for the AWD and has a locking rear diff, Low Range (where Neutral must be selected to engage), Snow, Sport, Sand, Auto, and Mud. It’s simple to use and although the Haval H9 is capable of off roading, it’s a safer soft roader. On a dedicated 4WD track, the Haval’s capabilities were tested and found to be suitable for soft-roading to mild off-roading. A 200mm ground clearance is where the H9 is let down and a conversation with a protruding piece of granite had the driver’s side sidestep shrouding broken and pushed back a couple of inches. The clearance means the 18 inch alloys and 265/60 rubber look undersized in the wheel wells. Approach and departure angles are 28 and 23 degrees respectively, and the H9 will crawl sideways at 23 degrees as well.

The H9 has a strange steering mix. On centre it feels rubbery yet the chassis will respond to the slightest touch. Left and right movement is virtually instant and allows for adept and confident handling on road. Road manners themselves for the Haval H9, bearing in mind its 1926mm width and 1900mm height, are decently good for such a large machine. The H9 is suspended on double wishbones up front and a supple multi-link rear, allowing for a slightly taut initial ride before quickly transitioning into a beautiful level of comfort.

Haval Australia has a five year warranty, five year 24/7 roadside assistance, but just 100,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2018 Haval H9 is a wonderful example of what feedback to a company can achieve. It’s a more refined vehicle, competent on road and to a measure of off road, provides plenty of room and comfort, and certainly fits the bill in the battle for the wallet. With a range now spanning four models, Haval’s becoming something to watch on the radar. Head here for more H9 info: 2018 Haval H9

Private Fleet Car Review: Tesla Model S P100 D & Model X P100D

They’re potentially expensive. They’re controversial. They’re cracking good drives. And totally fully electric. The Tesla range consisting of the Model S variants and Model X variants has been with us in Australia for a few years now and the Model S remains the most visible. The P100D name means the car is an all wheel drive machine, with a pair (the D stands for dual) of electric motors powering each corner. The 100, by the way, means the kilowatt hours the engines produce and it’s through the range the numbers tell the output. Body wise the Model S rocks a five door coupe shape in a smooth and svelte design, the Model X a more pumped roof.Pricing structure within Australia varies state by state for the Tesla cars. Tesla Model S pricing and Tesla Model X pricing are the links for your location, however starting prices are $113,200 for the Model S 75D and $120, 200 for the Model X 75D. The top of the range gets the “P” designation, with Ludicrous mode, top end interior, and Premium Upgrade package standard. That’s the zero to goodbye license in 2.9 seconds for the Model S and 3.1 seconds for the Model X. Passing speeds are also eyeball smashing with the sprint from 75 to 105 km/h lasting a mere 1.2 seconds.Interior trim is full machine made leather or as Tesla calls it, an ecologocally sustainable material, alcantara roof and pillar lining, a massive 17 inch touchscreen that controls virtually every aspect of the Tesla, and a key fob shaped like a car that has to be on you if you want to get in. There is an app that can go on your smartphone that will open and close doors, start the car, and even pre-start air-conditioning. However the corresponding service has to be enabled via the touchscreen for the mobile app to work. Should the key fob be mislaid the app can also be used to get you underway.The powered and heated seats are comfortable to a fault, the steering column is easily adjusted via an electric toggle, and it’s a pretty simple office to be in and a good one to look at.There’s carbon fibre inlays to complement the black plastic, leather, and alcantara, and looks a treat. Cup holders are on board but no door has storage in the Model S. None. The Model X, being aimed more at the family, comes with a customisable seating configuration of five, six, or seven seats, and the doors do get holders. The doors, by the way on the Model X are powered and opened via buttons on the fob. Individual doors can be opened or closed or all of them, including the gull wing rear passenger doors at the same time. The car and fob communicate wirelessly so when walking to or away from the P100D Model S the door handles slide out or in. It’s secure and safe and it’s a switchable option from the touchscreen, meaning it can be deactivated.

A talking point about Tesla vehicles is the autonomous driving factor. In a basic form it’s here however there’s some caveats and they’re pretty strong ones. Hidden in the B pillar and front guards are tiny cameras that link to software on board. If these cameras can see white roadside markings then the full LCD dash will display a grey steering wheel icon. This tells the driver that autonomous mode can be used. A small lever on the bottom left of the steering column needs to be pulled twice and this engages the software. BUT it also warns you to have your hands on the wheel and if there’s no lines, no auto steer. So what this means is that as a fully autonomous driving system, no, it’s not. As an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) yes but the human factor is crucially important, still.

The main screen covers everything from driving modes, to a swipe to open or close the sunroof fitted to the review car. Battery usage, air-conditioning, radio apps like TuneIn and Spotify (no DAB, as a result) are all accessed at a touch, even down to an onboard user manual. The driver’s screen has information accessed via two roller switches on the steering wheel itself, such as navigation, fan speed, battery discharge rates, and more. The audio itself is wonderful and comes with Dolby Surround. The dash of the Model X has something akin to a soundbar mounted directly at the base of the windscreen too.The centre console is spacious, comes with one 12V and USB port, and prefitted with a charge point for Apple phones that have a Lightning port. If you’re an Android user, you have to make do with the USB port and cable. Having said that, the cars use Google maps for their mapping system. The rear camera provides a high resolution image which is great as the rear vision mirror wouldn’t look out of place in a 1960s car. There’s even a bio-weapons style defense mode, says Tesla, when it comes to the air-conditioning system, blocking pollen, viruses, and bacteria. A cold weather package is also available as an option for non P cars, which give touchscreen access to heating seats and steering wheel. Updates? Over the air with wifi.Outside the Model S is slinky, lit with LED at either end with a neon look, and at around the five metre mark in length covers some real estate. The Model X looks like it’s slightly shorter however the higher roof-line may have something to do with that visually as both cars share the same chassis. There’s no grille on either, an optional carbon fibre spoiler for the Model S and a fixed wing on the Model X (fitted on the test car), and with an engine up front, storage is restricted to a small “frunk” in the S, a slightly larger version in the X. That’s Tesla speak for a front trunk. And yes, you can only open this via the touchscreen. The charge port is on the left rear quarter and will open at a push or via the touchscreen as well.The rear cargo section in both is huge (up to 2492 litres for Model X in five seater configuration) and there’s a hidden compartment under the rearmost section to add even more space. And for all but the tallest of people, the front and rear seat space is more than adequate. There’s even a bio-weapons defense mode, says Tesla, when it comes to the air-conditioning system, blocking pollen, viruses, and bacteria.To say the pair are quick is a massive understatement. There genuinely is nothing like it on four wheels. That all wheel drive system and the nature of electrical motors where max torque is at zero means eyeballs become pancakes at the back of the brain pan. Ludicrous mode is simply unbelievable if you’ve never experienced it. Overtaking is a doddle and slowing not only is super quick, it feeds energy back into the batteries. That recharge energy is also a switchable option as to how “hard” the braking system hauls down off acceleration. With a time of three seconds to 100 km/h a driver needs to be ready to deal with that acceletation otherwise issues, politely, could arise. And it all happens with no engine noise at all.

Getting underway is simple. As long as the key fob is with you, it’s a matter of foot on the brake, pull a small (and cheapish looking) lever on the right of the steering column down, and go. The onboard GPS has a memory where it can raise and lower the car’s airbag suspension as you travel a previously driven and stored route. Parking is a press of a button at the end and that engages a parking brake. Around thirty seconds after exit, the door handles retract on the Model S and the car goes to sleep.Ride quality is superb if using the standard suspension setting. It will go lower and hunkers down at speed by itself, but raise the car and it crashes and bangs. The bedamned speed restrictors in shopping centres are ignored, there’s simply no body movement yet it never once feels like it’s going to shake, rattle, and roll. Considering the massive 20, 21, or 22 inch turbine style wheels and rubber, the overall ride is very enjoyable.

The steering is precise and that’s crucial with such an astounding drivetrain. There’s no freeplay, no wasted turning, although the turning circle itself would be shamed by an American aircraft carrier. It’s superbly weighted too, with the standard mode almost indiscernible from the Sports mode.Range is, naturally, dependent on how the P100D is driven. In day to day traffic usage a good 600+ kilometres should be expected and with the charging network in Australia expanding, finding a place to plug in shouldn’t be too hard. The Google maps included allow a listing of charging points to be easily located. An online version of Tesla recharge points helps too. Naturally, just like a petrol or diesel vehicle, that expected range is subject to driving habits and conditions.

On that point, Tesla include a charging cable system that allows the cars to hook into your home energy system. If you have a solar/battery combination that will ease the small load on the normal home setup however Tesla do offer a supercharger style package that works directly from a three phase output, meaning quicker charging.

Warranty wise Tesla offer a comprehensive 8 year, infinite battery and drive-train warranty plus a standard 8 year limited warranty for all other components.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Tesla Model X as tested was $290,310 on road, with a starting price of $205,700. The metallic silver paint was a $1400 option, the 22 inch Black Onyx wheels $7600. The Enhanced Autopilot system was a further $6900 and the six seater configuration with centre console came to $8300. That’s before GST, luxury car tax and other government charges. Included are items such as the Premium Interior, Subzero Heating package, and Smart Air Suspension. The Model S starting point was $198,100. On top apart from the aforementioned government charges were $2100 for the frankly gorgeous metallic red paint, $6200 for the 21 inch turbine style wheels, $6900 for the autopilot system, which took the sedan to $267,650.

These put the pair up in the high end Mercedes-Benz/Audi/BMW/Jaguar price point…BUT, no more fuel costs, fast charging at selected sites to give around 400 kilometres of range in around a half hour (time to pause and enjoy that coffee and cake)…and then there’s that breathtaking acceleration and virtually incomparable ride quality, huge touchscreen, and that eerie cabin silence as you quietly whoosh away.

Are they worth it? The old saying that goes something like “you get what you pay for” says yes. Compared to those high end cars the cabin does lack ambience, appeal, cachet even. If wood trim or rocker gear selectors are your thing, that’s fine. If you’re a driver and technologically inclined, there’s still plenty of options. None of those options currently offer the sheer driving exhilaration of a Tesla. And for the driver, that’s enough.

Private Fleet Car Reviews: 2018 Subaru Liberty 3.6L and 2.5L.

Subaru‘s Liberty sedan continues to be a pillar of the Japanese brand’s sales success. The current three tier range has the 2.5L engine in the 2.5i and 2.5L Premium before a 3.6L flat six trim. Private Fleet goes back to back with the Subaru Liberty 3.6L and 2.5L Premium.The Liberty range itself received a mild facelift in early 2018, with a change to the front lights and bar, the rear lights, and a freshen up inside. Software such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was added to a touchscreen that was slightly larger than before, Lane Keeping Assist was added to the safety package, plus the Premium gains a updated safety package. Premium variants add a suite of Vision Assist features including: Steering Responsive Headlights, Adaptive Driving Beam, Side View Monitor, and Front View Monitor.Underneath there were changes to the suspension and drivetrain. There’s a smoother and more refined feel to both engines, and the seven speed CVT autos in both also feel crisper and smooth in the changes. However, in this driver’s opinion, the suspension is a backwards step, being floaty, soft, far too short in travel and banging quickly to the bumpstops on even the smaller speed inhibitors in shopping centres. There’s more noticeable skipping sideways as well, with a two and a half day trip to the Kiama and Illawarra region, south of Wollongong, finding plenty of spots where the rear would suddenly move sideways and too easily on the Dunlop 225.50/16 rubber and alloys.The two different engines require, like all petrol engines, plenty of spin to see the maximum power. The 2.5L four sees 5800 rpm for 129 kW, and the bigger six 6000 rpm for 191 kW. However real driving relies on torque, and it’s here the six wins with 350 Nm at 4400 revs. The smaller donk has 235 Nm and 4000 revs, a still not inconsequential amount for its size. Both do a sterling job of pulling the 1577 and 1655 kilo machines around, however the four suffers in comparison on the uphill runs. There’s noticeable drop-off quicker which requires a firmer right foot. That relative lack of torque in a vehicle that weighs as it does sees a zero to one hundred time of 9.6 seconds, and a full 2.4 seconds quicker for the flat six in an eighty kilo heavier car.Economy on the 2.5L shows that it’s otherwise a brilliant highway performer, with the return figure from the Illawarra standing up at 6.4L of standard unleaded per 100 kilometres from the sixty litre tank. That’s on par with Subaru’s claimed 6.2L/100 km for the highway. The 3.6L is quoted as 7.5L per 100 km and driven in a more urban environment wasn’t far from the quoted combined figure of 9.9L/100 km. It’s the quoted figure of over fourteen litres for every hundred kilometres for the urban cycle that’s the concern.In profile it’s a handsome machine with a full 4800 mm length, and with the LED C shaped tail lights glowing at night, the auto swivelling headlights at work, and the white metallic paint glinting in the night, looks eye-catching and appealing. There’s also door mounted puddle lamps which cast a LED light over a broad area. Inside, the bigger touchscreen is easy to use, is well laid out, and features satnav, apps, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The powered seats are heated but not vented, and lack enough side bolstering for genuine comfort. There’s no shortage of shoulder or leg room though, thanks to a wheelbase of 2750 mm, width of 1840 mm overall, and a long but height shallow 493L boot. There piano black trim on the steering wheel looks and feels cheap and is at odds at the otherwise classy interior.There’s a good level of tech on board with Active Torque Vectoring, and the Premium & 3.6L feature the Vision Assist package which is Front View Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side View Monitor, and Adaptive Driving Beam. Seven airbags including the driver’s knee bag means occupant safety is high. Height adjustable seat belts enhance that level. Reverse camera is standard across the range. But, and this is a big but, neither car had rear sensors and in an age where these are virtually mandatory this level of oversight is simply not good enough. What is good enough is Subaru’s Eyesight system. Stereo cameras mounted alongside the rear vision mirror, which is auto dimming by the way, rear the traffic ahead and are part of a safety bundle.Adaptive Cruise Control, Brake Light Recognition, Pre-collision Braking (which occasionally threw out some false positives), Pre-collision Brake Assist, Pre-collision Throttle Management, and Pre-collision Steering Assist work with the other driving aids to provide as much warning and support to drivers to avoid a crash as possible.But it’s the ride and handling that distinguishes this version compared to the previous and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It really does float, waft, and roll, and that suspension crash at low speeds just simply doesn’t feel good nor does it inspire confidence. It’s a chassis feel that a neighbour with a 2013 model Liberty said would turn him off from buying a new model. And it’s a chassis tune that feels aimed at more…mature drivers.

At The End Of The Drive.
Subaru’s list price for the 2.5L Premium is a reasonable $36,640. The six comes in at $43,140. Factor in on roads and those prices suddenly don’t look quite so attractive compared to the new Commodore and on a par with the Mazda 6 2.5L. The ride quality isn’t as good as expected, the lack of rear sensors may outweigh, in some buyer’s minds, the excellence of the EyeSight packagae, and the thirst around town of the six may also counter the positives. There’s always the Outback, though….Book a drive and make up your own mind, here: 2018 Subaru Liberty range

Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD and LS.

Mitsubishi have joined the ever growing band of car makers supplying a smaller mid sized SUV. The oddly named Eclipse Cross fits snugly between the Outlander and ASX in size yet packs a 1.5L turbocharged four cylinder and CVT. It’s a comfortable four seater, has a couple of nifty features inside, and comes with a cargo space big enough for a family of four’s weekend away luggage or a week’s shopping. It’s priced from the high $20K mark plus on-roads so it’s not a bankbuster either.The three model range has the LS 2WD, Exceed 2WD, and AWD. All three have the same 1.5 litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine that produces 110 kW at 5500 rpm and 250 Nm from 2000 to 3500 rpm, and CVT with eight steps. There’s a 60 litre tank that holds standard unleaded, and runs at a quoted fuel consumption figure of 7.7 litres per one hundred kilometres for the combined cycle. However, part of the dash display screen option list is expected range. On highway and freeway usage the range does extend and from pickup to home saw over two hundred kilometres being added.Exterior design is eyecatching; there’s Mitsubishi’s signature shield design for the front, free flowing sheetmetal for the wheel arches, and an angled scallop that reaches rearwards from the middle of the front doors that lines up the door handles. The rear is the question mark of the design but sets the Eclipse Cross apart from its competitors. It’s sharply angled from the arrow head tail lights to the roof in profile and both end lights are joined by a horizontal bar through the glass that also blocks some rearward vision. Rolling stock is standardised at 225/55/18 with rubber from Toyo being more dry land and tarmac oriented.An interior highlight for the range is the addition of a trackpad device located in the centre console. It’s intended to backup the seven inch touchscreen but in practical use, with a drag and slide and push down to enter, it’s not really that effective. The touchscreen and trackpad themselves seem to be Audi inspired, as the touchscreen is now housed in a pod that stands proud of the upper dash construction. The aircon controls are buried under a ledge that houses the centre airvents and a pair of USB ports.The Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD has a Bose speaker system that’s clean, crisp, punchy, and takes advantage of the DAB radio that’s fitted to all three variants. The touchscreen’s interface isn’t hard to use but sourcing stations in the digital realm was tricky and not intuitive. Naturally there’s apps that can be selected via the touchpad that include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Alongside that is the variable information available on the driver’s dash display that gives you economy, trip, eco rating, but not speed.The cabin itself is spacious and airy in feel, thanks to an overall height of 1685 mm, a width of 1805 mm overall, and a wheelbase of 2760 mm inside the compact 4405 mm length. The black of the lower seat level section is contrasted by alloy plastic highlights, glossy piano black, and the roof lining in a cloth weave of an almost beige shade. The seats themselves are cloth with a sliver diamond motif in the LS and heated leather (no cooling, sigh) in the Exceed. The Exceed also has a Head Up Display that folds up from the binnacle. Although it’s easy to read and populates itself with information such as speed, crash alerts for the radar assisted cruise control, the screen itself is perhaps a couple of inches too low for ease of vision. Also, the rear tail gate in the Exceed AWD isn’t power operated, as expected. Cargo space is 341L to 448L and sits above a space saver spare. That capacity goes to 1136L with the seats folded.Where the Eclipse Cross claws back points is in the manners on road. The 1.5L needs a little bit of coaxing off the line when loaded up but once into its stride responds willingly enough. With one aboard it’s a sparkling performer, an adept handler, and a surefooted performer in ride quality. With four aboard and the cargo area full it’s less willing to get under way but still has some solid mid range urge. The multi-link rear feels tauter when not loaded up and the front is well balanced in comparison. Absorption of bumps and irregularities is smooth and progressive with even the short and sharp speed restrictors in shopping centres lessened in their crash into the cabin. Turn in is measured and precise, with no feeling of oversteer in the AWD and little understeer in the 2WD. Mass, or lack thereof, helps, as the LS and Exceed 2WD weigh 1490 kilos dry, the AWD 1555 kilos dry.The Eclipse Cross AWD was taken on a good country drive, from Sydney to Bega and surrounds and back, covering in all over 1600 kilometres. Some of that was through the soft, wet, coarse sand of a crossing at the Bega River. Although CVTs tend not to engage straight away when the accelerator is pushed, the development from Mitsubishi has lessened this to the point that engagement is quick and combined with the AWD system (which is switchable for Snow and Gravel) allowed safe, unhurried, and unconcerned crossings. Only rarely, too, did the 1.5L feel that more torque was required, and naturally this was moreso uphill and when overtaking. The CVT is smooth and well matched to the engine, and when the go pedal is pushed to the carpet, has a steady and progressive climb through the revs to 4000 where it plateaus.Safety is paramount here with seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking and radar cruise control. This needs some work as the braking is far too harsh and sudden. Modulation down to a more progressive stop would make this a far better experience. A full set of parking sensors is complimented by the reverse camera, 360 degree view on the touchscreen, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic alert.

At The End Of The Drive.
It’s somewhat of an oddity, the Eclipse Cross, both in name and looks. As a family car and a daily driver, it fits the bill. It’s fine for four but no more, isn’t unattractive, drives well enough to suit almost every application, and the AWD system is ok for some gentle soft-roading. But a few minor quibbles such as the way the HUD sits, the lack of showing speed in the driver’s display, and the compromised rear vision take some of the gloss away.

The LS is priced at the time of writing at %31,990 driveaway, with most of the paint options at $590. The gorgeous metallic red that Exceed AWD is clad in is $890 and tops out at $39,380 driveaway. Specifications for the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are available here: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross specifications.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

Narva’s L.E.D.s Light The Way Offroad.

Aftermarket lighting supplier Narva introduced the Ultima 215 LED driving lights in 2017. An important feature of the Ultima 215 is that it meets the stringent requirements of CISPR 25 which is part of the ECE Regulation 10 for EMC, a feature that is sadly not evident in many other lamps on the market. By the way, CISPR is Comité International Spécial des Perturbations Radioélectriques or International Special Committee on Radio Interference.

Narva Marketing Manager, Jake Smith, said the company knew the lights would be popular but had not fully anticipated the spectacular market uptake. “Throughout the lamps development we were extremely excited about the lights’ performance and the potential impact they would have on the market. The 215 L.E.D lamps provide the latest technology, outstanding light output and the reliability and toughness Narva lights are known for and these qualities, coupled with a reasonable price point has struck accord with customers. The strength of our research, development and testing meant that the lamp was compliant with CISPR 25 on release, further broadening the appeal of the lamps, especially for emergency services applications where the avoidance of radio interference is critical.”The units have proved popular with the 4WD and travel industries. Former motorbike racer, Daryl Beattie, has turned his hand to running a travel company. One of his vehicles is a tough and sturdy IVECO 4×4 support truck which now sports two pairs of the 215s. Covering the rugged Canning stock route, the Simpson Desert, and routes that go to Cape York, Beattie says of the Narva 215 units: “They produce a staggering white light that’s easy on the eye and fills in the shadows way down the road ahead – they are the best spotties I’ve ever owned.” Daryl added:“After using the Ultima 215s, I can safely say they are the only L.E.D driving lights that I’ll be using on my adventures.”

The Ultima 215 L.E.Ds feature a class-leading hybrid beam pattern that combines volume for off-road use and long range performance for on highway transport applications. Each light is equipped with 33 x 5W (165W) XP-G2 Cree L.E.Ds that develop a pure white output (5700°K) and a penetrating light of 10,500 raw Lumens. As a pair, the lamps provide an impressive 1 Lux of brightness at 900 metres.

As well as using powerful Cree L.E.Ds, the performance is aided by the lights’ highly polished, aluminium, metallised reflectors which feature precisely scalloped parabolas for superior control and performance. The lamps feature die cast aluminium housing, ‘Active Thermal Management System’ allowing the lights to run harder for longer, while also incorporating a nitro breather vent and integrated DT connector, and are fully sealed against water and dust ingress to IP66 and IP67. Other benefits of the lamps include an L.E.D front position light to improve daytime driving visibility, virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens and see-through lens protector.

Naturally there’s a bespoke mounting harness and a five year warranty to back everything up. Narva is an Australian owned company and products can be found at reputable 4wd and offroad equipment stores.

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Goes Topless.

$532,635 Australian dollars, including taxes, excluding on the road costs. That how much the new Huracan Performante will cost. The what?
Here’s what it is.The Performante Syder will see a 0-100 km/h time of just 3.1 seconds thanks to its 5.2 l V10 naturally-aspirated engine. A permanent all wheel drive system helps it go further, with 0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) in 9.3 seconds A top speed of 325 km/h matches its coupé stablemate. Braking from 100-0 km/h is mastered in 31.5 m.

Like the Performante coupé, the Spyder outputs 640 hp (470 kW) at 8,000 rpm, producing 600 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, and with more than 70% of torque already available at 1,000 rpm. Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini says: ““The Huracán Performante Spyder takes the zenith of Huracán developments, combined with the enhanced emotion of driving a convertible.”With a total dry weight of just 1,507 kg, the Spyder returns a weight-to-power ratio of 2.35 kg/hp, with weight distribution front/rear of 43/57%. Domenicali also said: “The Huracán Performante already provides the most heightened feedback and emotion from road and track, and the Huracán Performante Spyder puts the driver even closer to asphalt and air, as well as the unique resonance of a naturally-aspirated Lamborghini engine.”